2021 & 2022 Samuel “Sandy” R. Berger Memorial Fellowship Awards Ceremony Held

Washington, D.C.- On October 11, 2022, the US-China Education Trust (USCET) and Peking University School of International Studies (SIS) hosted a virtual ceremony to recognize the four recipients of the 2021 and 2022 Samuel “Sandy” Berger Memorial Fellowship. The Berger Memorial Fellowship was created to honor the life and legacy of the late Honorable Sandy Berger, National Security Advisor to President Bill Clinton, who demonstrated a strong commitment to balancing competition with collaboration between the United States and China, even when obstacles seemed insurmountable. Two graduate or undergraduate students from the School of International Studies at Peking University are awarded the Berger Fellowship each year after a competitive process, to support research on a topic related to international relations.

The October ceremony was emceed by Wang Dong, Professor at the SIS and Executive Director of the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding (iGCU) at Peking University. It featured opening remarks from Susan Berger and representatives of the host organizations,  followed by presentations by each of the four Berger Fellows on their research, and expert commentary from US and Chinese scholars.

In opening remarks, Dean Tang Shiqi of Peking University’s SIS praised the fellowship for enhancing understanding and fostering academic links between the two countries, and laying a foundation for improving US-China relations. Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch, President of the US-China Education Trust, said that the Berger Memorial Fellowship provided a glimmer of hope during these darkest hours of US-China relations. She praised the academic achievement and passion of the four awardees and noted that, despite the deteriorating relationship between the two governments, human connections between the two sides remain unbroken. 

Mrs. Susan Berger, wife of the late Honorable Sandy Berger, congratulated the four awardees and expressed her gratitude that the younger generation in China is carrying forward her husband’s legacy through their research. Professor Jia Qingguo, Director of the iGCU at Peking University, acknowledged that US-China relations face unprecedented challenges and expressed hope that the two sides will strengthen communication to avoid the relationship being hijacked by negative public opinion. Constructive dialogue and exchange is always beneficial, and the Berger Memorial Fellowship  is an outstanding example of that.

Next, the Berger Fellows each gave a short presentation on their research project. 

2021 Berger Fellow Yang Jing, currently a Ph.D. candidate in International Studies at Peking University, talked about her study and research on Latin America  and her current research project focusing on the impact of migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America to the U.S and neighboring countries. She majored in Spanish as an undergraduate and  has been an exchange student in Spain and Mexico.  

2021 Berger Fellow WANG Xin, also a Ph.D. candidate in the School of International Studies, focuses on government and politics in the United States. Wang Xin introduced her research on “identity politics” in the U.S., in which she explores the impact of globalization and electoral politics on identity. Wang hails from Baotou, Inner Mongolia, and feels that her upbringing in a  land of ethnic minorities has given her insight into issues of identity. 

2022 Berger Fellow XU Gao (2022 Fellow), a Ph.D. candidate at the School of International Studies, is interested in the study of diplomatic history and Sino-US relations, and the history of international relations. Xu Gao has published several articles on diplomatic history already, and her current research focuses on US-China relations during the late Qing Dynasty and early Republican era. She will use the Fellowship to do archival research in several locations. 

2022 Berger Fellow YI Duo (2022 Fellow) is an undergraduate in the School of International Studies, majoring in international political economy. She is interested in studying theories of strategic narrative and their impacts on Sino-US relations. Yi Duo is interested in authoritarian resilience, contentious politics, and nationalist ideology. Her current research focuses on “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” as a strategic narrative.

Expert commentary on the students’ research plans was provided by Professor Wang Yizhou, Peking University Boya Chair and member of the academic committee of iGCU, Professor  Wang Yong, Director of the Center of American Studies and member of the academic committee of iGCU; Dr. Robert Kapp, former president of the US-China Business Council; and Professor Harry Harding, University Professor of Public Policy at the University of Virginia.  

In his conclusion, Professor Wang Dong said that, despite the bleak state of U.S.-China relations, the younger generation in both countries is a source of renewed confidence, which is why the School of International Studies at Peking University, the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding, and the US-China Education Trust are committed to promoting educational exchanges between Chinese and American youth and to supporting the talented students who are recipients of the Sandy Berger Memorial Fellowship Awards.

Read interviews with some of our previous Sandy Berger Memorial Fellows here.